What causes bladder cancer?
Bladder cancer occurs when cells in the bladder grow in an abnormal way, eventually forming a tumor. The reasons are not always clear. According to the Mayo Clinic, bladder cancer has been linked to causes like smoking, parasitic infection, radiation, and chemical exposure.
What are the types of bladder cancer?
1. Transitional cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of bladder cancer in the U.S. Transitional cell carcinoma occurs in the cells that line the bladder wall.
2. Squamous cell carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinoma is a rare form of bladder cancer in the U.S. Squamous cells are the result of infection or irritation; over time, they can turn cancerous.
3. Adenocarcinoma: Like squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma is rare in the U.S. It occurs in the glands that secrete mucous.
What are the risk factors for bladder cancer?
• Smoking: Exposure to harmful toxins in the smoke from cigarettes and cigars may put you at greater risk of developing bladder cancer.
• Age: Bladder cancer is rarely found in individuals under the age of 40. The risk of this type of cancer increases with age.
• Gender: Males are more likely to develop bladder cancer than women.
• Race: Caucasians are at greater risk of bladder cancer than other races.
• Chemical exposure: Exposure to arsenic and the chemicals used to manufacture dyes, rubbers, leather, textiles and paints may put you at greater risk of bladder cancer. Individuals such as painters, machinists, printers, hairdressers and truck drivers may be at a higher risk due to their exposure to these chemicals.
• Previous cancer treatment: Taking Cytoxan (an anti-cancer drug) puts you at greater risk. Also, those who have had pelvic radiation treatments have a higher risk, too.
• Certain diabetes medications: Taking medications used to treat diabetes, specifically Actos, Actoplus Met, or Duetact may increase your risk of developing bladder cancer.
• Herbal supplements: Certain supplements, such as aristolochic acid, have been linked to bladder cancer.
• Chronic bladder inflammation: Frequent urinary infections or cystitis may increase your risk of bladder cancer.
• Family history: A family history of cancer increases the likelihood that you will develop it as well.
• Low fluid intake: Those who drink plenty of fluids are at lower risk of developing bladder cancer, possibly because they empty their bladder often, discouraging chemicals from lingering in the body.
Can you reduce your risk of bladder cancer?
When it comes to lifestyle choices like smoking or fluid intake, you can take steps to reduce your risk of bladder cancer. Other factors, such as hereditary, age, race or gender, can’t be controlled. However, experts recommend that you should always do what you can to lower your risk of bladder cancer, no matter your risk level. In addition, if you know you are at higher risk, it's important to get tested early.
What are the symptoms of bladder cancer?
• Blood in your urine: Blood, or any other discoloration – dark yellow, bright red or brownish – should raise concern.
• Changes in urination: If you notice either greater frequency and/or pain with urination, you should take note.
• Pain: Either back or pelvic pain could be a sign of bladder cancer.
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor or healthcare provider immediately.
Learning everything you need to know about bladder cancer can help you do what you can to reduce your risk, get tested early if you’re at higher risk, and get treatment, if necessary. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and risk factors, you can best prepare yourself
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